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In times of national crisis kiwis have been good at looking inwards and appreciating what we have in our little country. Part of the process of survival and recovery involves looking after each other and supporting our neighbours and communities. The struggle of small, local businesses is a historic one with financial crises, overseas competition and, particularly in the current case, international pandemics putting pressure on such businesses to keep going. Today’s Our Treasure is a colourful WWI New Zealand Day poster from Whangarei Museum’s archives. The Auckland Industrial Association and Empire League was one of the many types of war relief groups and published this poster nationwide to promote spending within New Zealand. This particular edition appeared in the Northern Advocate Newspaper on Friday 9 th February 1917.




While produced over a century ago this poster is as relevant today as it was then, advertising “The Campaign for New Zealand Manufactures”. As it was printed during the First World War the poster encourages people to support the New Zealand economy by promoting feelings of nationalism and patriotism. Our connection and responsibilities to the wider “Dominion and the Empire” are expressed, with the lead being that buying New Zealand made will support our friends overseas. The phrase “The Empire Calls” is reflective of army recruitment advertisements of the time, spreading the sentiment of public service. You will recognise many of the brands advertised here as well as many that have come and gone in the past century. Among them Portland Cement, Wiseman’s Leather, Highlander Condensed Milk, and Oak Jams are still active today. Even the kiwi centered in the New Zealand Made crest appears as a precursor to today’s Made in New Zealand trademark. New Zealander’s have always laboured to make quality products, from larger industries of dairy, leather, produce and wool to trade and home businesses like sauces, soap, jewellery and clothing. In the 1930s depression the call for buying New Zealand made returned with the New Zealand Manufacturer’s Association organising various week long campaigns and fairs. Again, today is a time where we can support our friends and families by buying ‘locally made’. I conclude by echoing the sentiments from the New Zealand Day poster- “take pride in your country’s progress, busy factories mean general prosperity”. 


Georgia Kerby

Exhibitions Curator

17 June 2020